Council approves lease of community center space for J. Trees Cellars winery
Tecumseh City Council members authorized the city with a unanimous vote Monday, Oct. 21, to sign a lease agreement with J. Trees Cellars (JTC) for Suite B of the Community Center. The agreement is conditioned on approval of the Planning Commission, City Council and the Department on Aging, which also occupies first floor space.
J. Trees Cellars owner, Jon Treloar, was in attendance at the Monday night meeting as the matter was discussed by council. Agenda materials included sketches of a build-out plan to divide the first floor of the community center between J. Trees Cellars and The Lenawee County Department on Aging Senior Center, as well as parking lot plans. J. Trees Cellars would lease the facility for $1,040 per month the first 24 months. Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch said the estimated cost to make the improvements would be between $20,000 and $25,000.
In a memo to council, Treloar offered a brief background of company operations, stating that JTC planted vineyards in 2006 in Petersburg, and constructed a winery in 2007. They began producing wine in 2008 utilizing contracted Michigan grown grapes and started harvesting off the estate vineyard in 2010/2011. The company also has a tasting room in Blissfield, which opened in 2010.
JTC produces 100 percent of its own wine and specializes in sparkling wines and hard ciders. The company also produces still (non-carbonated) wines but its largest production and distribution is based in carbonated products.
Treloar said the community center facility is perfectly suited for its needs both in utility and aesthetics. He also lives in Tecumseh with his wife, Brooke.
“We actually had our wedding reception at the Community Center,” he said following the meeting. Treloar added that he sees the Tecumseh area as having a good deal of potential for growth. “Especially with the fact that there is already a winery downtown, Flying Otter [in Raisin Township] opening last year, and Cherry Creak not far. In terms of wine trails, it’s important to be able to attract people to drive to the area, and this area already has the potential to do that.”
J. Trees Cellars would utilize the main area of Suite B for a large tasting bar for customers to stand or sit and sample the company’s products or to enjoy a flight of samples paired with simple food such as cheese plates. The room would also be a retail sales area for all product offerings as well as wine related items. J. Trees Cellars also plans to host small events such as winemaker tastings, catered food/wine pairings, bachelorette parties, corporate gatherings and such. Outdoor seating is also planned. Local musicians could also be a part of the activities. The basement area could also be utilized to store bottled product.
Treloar told the council members that the company would like to be operating by February, however everything is subject to the Michigan Liquor Control Board.
“That part is kind of out of our hands,” he said.
Welch said if all proceeds as planned, including the Planning Commission piece for rezoning the site from Residential RA-1 to B-3 Business with conditions, and site plan approval, the city could possibly turn over the keys to the tenant by the first part of January.
An amendment is also being pursued with the Department on Aging, which council also approved on Monday night. That agreement was extended for one year, bringing all Community Center contracts to two year lease agreements.
In other business, the council members:
• Established an industrial development district at 223 E. Patterson St., the site of Tecumseh Trolley and Limousine Services, and approved an Industrial Facilities Tax exemption for the company for a maximum 12 year period, which will generate an additional $195 of tax revenue each year beginning Dec. 31, of this year. Tecumseh Trolley will be making a $54,000 investment which could help retain up to four jobs and create up to two additional positions.
• Approved the signing of a stipulation agreement for 114 N. Division St., Tecumseh, which resolves that the City makes no claim for the property located at that address and legal description. The issue clears up a discrepancy in the property description.
• Authorized the Tecumseh Center for the Arts to host the Halloween Bash on Oct. 26.
• Honored council member Pat Housekeeper with a reception prior to the meeting and a Certificate of Appreciation for her years of service on the council.